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Cognitively Reframing Coronavirus

cognitive reframing coronavirus

Cognitive reframing, also known as cognitive restructuring, is a psychological technique to help you look at a situation differently. In light of the current global pandemic, I thought it would be useful to help you to use cognitive reframing with coronavirus.

Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

Viktor E. Frankl1

Viktor Frankl1 was a holocaust survivor. His quote references that your ability to adapt and respond to a current stressor has a crucial impact on your emotional health.

You cannot change the fact that the world is facing coronavirus, but you can change how you feel about it and the impact that it has on you emotionally.

Cognitive reframing helps to give you a different perspective or another way to look at a problem. Even though the situation does not change, we live with a global pandemic. How you feel about it depends on your frame of reference. Two people might feel very differently about the same situation, depending on how they view the problem.  

Having the ability to reframe the situation in a way that is helpful to you will also help you manage stress, as you might have already read on my site that a perceived threat can cause anxiety.

What does Cognitive Reframing mean?

When you are presented with any situation, how you feel about it depends on the meaning that you give to it.

For example, let’s say I bought a new car. It’s two years old, and I’m delighted with it, viewing it and polishing it daily. It means something good to me, something that I want to look after.

Then my friend calls over in her new BMW, straight out of the showroom with zero miles on the clock. I no longer want to show her my new car. Even though before she came over, it was new to me, and I was happy. Now I’m thinking, it’s not new, I couldn’t afford a new one. Can you see how my mood shifted when I attributed a new meaning to my car purchase? This is an example of negative reframing where I was initially happy with my car and then reframed it based on seeing my friend’s new car.

With cognitive restructuring, I do not need to keep feeling bad; I can reframe my thoughts and the meanings I give to events. In doing so, I change how my mood by using positive reframing.

Give coronavirus a different frame.

Your thoughts relating to the coronavirus are almost more important than the actual pandemic regarding your ability to cope with Covid-19. 

How you react to and think about coronavirus is crucial to your well-being.

If you are thinking

      • I will never cope with a lockdown

      • I’m helpless

      • People are dangerous

      • I can’t survive staying indoors

    These thoughts will help a direct impact on your mood. Your thoughts are not neutral.

    How to reframe your thoughts

    You can label them without mulling them over, as explained in this article

    You can shine a spotlight on your thoughts and decide if they are valid or not, for example.

    If you thought

    I will never cope. Ask yourself, what situations have you already dealt with in your life? There will be many. Most adults have coped with loss, either through bereavement or divorce, coped with job losses and came out the other side.

    You have a lifetime developing coping skills that are dismissed when you are stuck in a thought pattern that you cannot cope.

    In the article that I referred to above, I mentioned that 

    Misery loves company. If you mull something bad over in your head, your brain will quickly link other instances that made you feel bad.

    What I mean by that is that your brain likes to link up all the relevant details. So if you think you cannot cope, you will not be able to remember and see all the times in your life that show you that you already have excellent coping skills.

    Cognitive reframing I cannot cope would be

    I have dealt with many things in my life, and I can get through the changes that are currently in my life.

    While you must be alert to coronavirus and follow the guidelines issued by your country, these are the things that you cannot control. Reframing your thoughts relating to coronavirus is within your control. Reframing any unhelpful thought patterns will help you mind your emotions during Covid-19.


    Viktor Frankl was an Austrian psychiatrist. If you have not read his book, I recommend it Man’s Search for Meaning